Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is one of the oldest English nursery rhymes with a very recognizable melody. Do you know its familiar tune? Here’s a hint. The melody is similar to another nursery rhyme song video on our Kids YouTube channel. Keep reading to find out the story behind “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and to learn the title of the other familiar rhyme with the same melody.

“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” Lyrics

Baa, baa, black sheep, 
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir, 
Three bags full.
One for my master,
One for my dame,
And one for the little boy 
Who lives down the lane.

Click the image to download a beautiful PDF of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” Lyrics

Free PDF download of Baa, Baa, Black Sheep lyrics
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Sing along with our beautifully illustrated video of this well-loved nursery rhyme!

Story of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”

Originally written in 1731, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was first printed in a collection of English rhymes called Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book in 1744. In 1930 Katherine Elwes Thomas wrote about the history of the rhyme in her book, The Real Personages of Mother Goose.

In the late 13th century in Medieval England after returning home from the Crusades, King Edward I ran out of funds. War was expensive and Edward I needed to replenish his treasury, so he imposed a new tax called the Old Custom tax on the sheep farmers. Wool was highly sought after for making cloth. The king collected a third of the wool from each farmer, and the church took another third, leaving the farmer with the final third. The tax was so successful for the king that it remained in place until the 15th century. 

In the original lyrics, the shepherd boy was left with no wool for himself, having given it all to the “master and dame,” who represented the nobility of Medieval England.  

Today the modern lyrics of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” are much more uplifting. It is a rhyme about a generous shepherd boy who shares the wool from his flock with those around him.

Illustration of boy carrying a bag of wool for Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Before you go, did you figure out the familiar melody of this nursery rhyme? There are actually two well-loved songs that use this old French melody. Sing along with both of them on our Kids YouTube channel.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Title
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Click the image to download a beautiful PDF of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” lyrics!

Free PDF download of Baa, Baa, Black Sheep lyrics

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  • Erin Hooker

    Baa Baa Black Sheep is my daughter’s favorite nursery rhyme. She has had me sing it to her every night since she was 2. She’s ten now!

  • Annie Wilson

    My kids love this nursery rhyme and song. I will be sharing this story with them.

  • Nicholas Pece

    Thank you so much for teaching me something about the historical backstory of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”. It’s because children, such as preschoolers and kindergartners, need to learn more about the origins of these nursery rhymes than just their words/lyrics. That way, they can prepare for their history classes and use them to learn how world history connects to nursery rhymes’ origins because history has resulted in almost everything in which we the people know and think about our modern lives and homes. I hope other people like me can get advice from you about solving these serious global problems. Thank you very much.